BLADE: Juniper Networks' Trojan Horse

While many are delighted by the availability of products from Juniper, a frontal assault on the biggest data center switch opportunities can bring together the corporate networking team and incumbent vendors to fortify their defenses against the barbarian. In these accounts Juniper now has a stealthy and powerful new weapon for penetrating data center networks, and for standing out in a crowded switch market: Ethernet blade server switches designed by BLADE and running Junos.

Frank Berry

November 30, 2009

5 Min Read
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On October 29th, Juniper Networks, a new and powerful entrant in the roughly $5 billion market for Ethernet switches in the data center announced it has licensed its Junos operating system to BLADE Network Technologies for the development of Junos-based blade server switches. The partnership has the potential to provide Juniper with a highly leveraged channel into the data center, with blade servers from major OEMs serving as Trojan Horses for BLADE switches running Junos.

Juniper Networks grew to $4 billion in annual revenue by providing routers and security appliances to service providers. The company now covets the switches stacked in aisle-after-aisle of the corporate data center, but large IT organizations can be massive fortresses carefully designed to fend off the disruptive addition of new vendors and products. For network administrators happy with their current switch vendor, volume discounts, depreciation schedules, service contracts, site licenses, common spares, operator training and product qualification testing are just a few of the many reasons why if it isn't broken, they don't want to fix their networking vendor and product mix.

Juniper's vision is massive public clouds where network capacity and service levels are provisioned to corporations as needed. And the company views cloud computing as a technology inflection point at which the enterprise switch playing field is somewhat leveled. To seize the opportunity, Juniper has defined a long term strategy and a cloud architecture called Stratus. The company is also building an arsenal of hardware, software and services that enterprise data center managers can use today for applications ranging from simple LANs to complex private clouds.

Juniper launched a frontal assault on its data center switch competitors in 2008 with the introduction of the EX line of switches. The company now offers a comprehensive portfolio of routers, switches and security appliances that all run the Junos operating system for efficient deployment and management from core-to-edge. The new EX line of switches for branch office, campus and data center networks includes five different products ranging from fixed-platform switches with 24 ports to modular chassis switches with up to 768 ports. And by combining products developed in-house, with products from top-notch technology partners such as BLADE, Juniper is steadily expanding the capabilities of the EX line of switches.

Since achieving product readiness in January with their EX line of switches, Juniper has been working on achieving field readiness, and their progress is impressive. Most noteworthy among their accomplishments are OEM deals with Dell and IBM to spearhead business development with channel partners and IT organizations looking for an alternative to Cisco.

While many are delighted by the availability of products from Juniper, a frontal assault on the biggest data center switch opportunities can bring together the corporate networking team and incumbent vendors to fortify their defenses against the barbarian. In these accounts Juniper now has a stealthy and powerful new weapon for penetrating data center networks, and for standing out in a crowded switch market: Ethernet blade server switches designed by BLADE and running Junos.

Since the advent of blade servers in 2003, the blade server market has grown to comprise a little more than 10 percent of the approximately $40 billion of server factory revenue that will be generated in 2009. Beginning in 2003 network administrators in hundreds of companies have been shocked to learn that server administrators in their company deployed blade servers with entire networks of embedded adapters and switches in each one. To add insult to injury, the network administrators are given no choice but to make the rogue switches work with their networks. In the darkness of night, these Trojan Horse servers are shipped into data centers with switches inside, and installed, before network administrators have the slightest chance to put up a fight.

Juniper has chosen their blade switch partner wisely. BLADE pioneered Ethernet blade server switch technology and has delivered extraordinary results disproportionate to the small company's size. According to IT Brand Pulse, BLADE is the market share leader in Ethernet blade server switches with over 7 million ports installed and has earned 70 percent market share in the important IBM BladeCenter segment. BLADE also pioneered blade server market development. The privately held company has succeeded at IBM by winning the hearts and minds of the sales force with a constant stream of innovative new products and superior field marketing support.The latest 10Gb Ethernet blade server switch from BLADE is a great example of BLADE innovation and a perfect vehicle for blade server switches Running Junos to leap-frog the competition in the blade server switch market.  A center-piece of IBM BladeCenter Virtual Fabric solutions, the BLADE Virtual Fabric 10G Switch Module is the industry's first converged fabric (CEE/FCoE) blade switch. Featuring VMready technology, the new switch enables the network to be Virtual Machine aware. As a result, the network can be configured with ACLs, QoS and VLAN attributes on a per-virtual-machine basis.

In IBM BladeCenter environments, I look for BLADE to favor 10Gb switches Running Junos because they're complementary with Juniper EX2500 top-of-rack switches - another result of the Juniper | BLADE partnership.

  • Cloud computing is a technology inflection point where the playing field is somewhat leveled for Juniper to compete with new Enterprise switch products.

  • Juniper has laid important groundwork in 2009 with the introduction the EX line of switches and by securing Dell and IBM OEM partnerships.

  • The blade server switch market is a leveraged channel for Juniper to penetrate the Enterprise data center with a Trojan Horse strategy.

  • BLADE is a wise choice as a Ethernet blade switch partner. Blade is a technology, marketing and market share leader.

  • Juniper should hit-the-ground-running in the blade switch market given that BLADE is already qualified with IBM Virtual Fabric solutions.

  • The Juniper | BLADE partnership is highly synergistic. If BLADE can help steer some of their 70 percent switch market share with IBM BladeCenter, to switches Running Junos; Juniper will gain additional footprint in the enterprise switch market and BLADE will sell more higher priced top of rack switches.

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